Mysterious 'half-animal, half-plant' marine microbe discovered by Japanese researchersHalf-animal, half-plant? Roll over, Frankenstein:
Mysterious 'half-animal, half-plant' marine microbe discovered by Japanese researchers
A mysterious marine microbe, half of whose individual cells eat algae like animals while the rest perform photosynthesis like plants, has been discovered, a University of Tsukuba research team said. The discovery, the first of its kind, will be carried in the U.S. magazine Science that will be published on Friday. "I think the discovery of the 'half-animal, half-plant' microbe shows part of the process of single-cell marine microbes evolving into plants," Prof. Isao Inoue, a member of the research team, said. The research team happened to find the single-cell microbe, a kind of flagellate, on a beach in Wakayama Prefecture, and called it "hatena" ("mystery"). The microbe is originally green and is made up of algae. When it divides into two cells, one takes over the algae from its parent and remains green and the other turns colorless. The animal-type colorless cell develops an organ like a mouth and uses it to eat algae, while the plant-type green one uses algae it has in its body to perform photosynthesis and produce energy, according to the team.